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25 May 2010
Running a poultry farm in a way that caused suffering and distress to animals
in his care has landed an Auckland poultry farmer in prison and cost him the
right to own broiler hens for 10 years.
Gerard Francis Van Den Bogaart, trading as Golden Harvest Poultry, was today
sentenced by Her Honour Judge McAuslan in Papakura District Court after pleading
guilty to four offences under the Animal Products Act 1999 (APA) and two
offences under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
In June 2008 New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) investigators and
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) investigators - assisted by police,
local council officers and a veterinarian - executed NZFSA search warrants on
two rural properties in South Auckland that Van Den Bogaart was operating from.
This was done under provisions of the Animal Products Act on the basis of the
suspected illegal slaughter and sale of poultry and eggs to a number of Auckland
During the three-day operation more than 100,000 eggs were seized and
destroyed, 5000 laying hens were relocated and more than 1,100 mainly broiler
chickens euthanased to alleviate their suffering. NZFSA and animal welfare staff
were forced to euthanase a further 4000 hens, broiler chickens and ducks because
these animals could not be relocated to compliant properties.
Records show poultry and egg sales totalling $279,962 between January and
June 2008, which Judge McAuslan said constituted a significant operation.
In sentencing him, Judge McAuslan said Van Den Bogaart had been cruel and his
significant offending over a long period of time had led to suffering and
distress for the animals in his care.
Her Honour sentenced Van Den Bogaart under the Animal Welfare Act to one year
in prison for the wilful ill-treatment of broiler hens and roosters in his care
and for two months concurrently for failing to provide for their physical,
health and behavioural needs.
Under the Animal Products Act Her Honour imprisoned Van Den Bogaart for six
months concurrently for selling non-compliant animal products, while he was
convicted and discharged on two lesser charges under the Act.
He was also ordered to pay almost $10,000 in relation to the costs incurred
by the authorities during the three day operation and disqualified from keeping
broiler hens for 10 years.
Sentencing marks the culmination of two years of work by authorities. NZFSA
director of compliance and investigation Geoff Allen says what the investigators
found during the operation beggared belief.
"We found chickens that were kept in filthy and inhumane conditions.
"No consumer should be put at risk by eating eggs or animals produced, kept
or slaughtered in such unsanitary conditions and where the necessary precautions
are not taken to manage the presence of harmful bacteria."
In early 2007 NZFSA served a notice of direction on the company to cease the
sale of poultry and eggs as well as slaughter of poultry, which Mr Van Den
Bogaart continued to disregard.
Prior to the operation, NZFSA had tried in vain to help Mr van den Bogaart
make his operation compliant by developing a Risk Management Programme (RMP),
which is a legal requirement for all poultry slaughterhouses and all egg
producers with more than 100 female birds.
MAF investigations manager Greg Reid said that failing to protect the welfare
of all production animals including poultry is an offence under the Animal
Welfare Act 1999.
"The Act places a duty of care on everyone who owns or is in charge of
animals to prevent pain, suffering and distress. Turning a blind eye to animals'
suffering - and in this case for personal and financial gain - has serious
consequences; not just for the animals but now for Mr van den Bogaart through a
court hearing and extensive penalties.
"The standard of care and management in this case was well below and far
removed from the behaviours of a reasonable and prudent poultry farmer. Such
conduct impacts on the reputation of all good poultry farmers throughout New
For further comment on food safety contact: Geoff Allen, Director
(Compliance and Investigation), 04 894 2506 or 029 894 2506
For further comment on animal welfare contact: Lisa Gibbison, MAF
Senior Communications Adviser, 04 894 0432
For further information: Miriam Meister, Advisor (Media
Communications), 04 894 2466 or 029 894 2466.